An Awkward Conversation with Google+

Still Together After All These Years

Oh, hey Google+, long time no see! What’s it been, three or four weeks now? Wow, really – July you say? Time flies. Yeah, I’d been meaning to swing by, but you know how it is, always something else coming up, never enough time to get around to see everyone.

Thanks for the invite to your housewarming by the way; it was nice. I thought small and intimate was definitely the way to go, and you really took the time to make everyone there feel special. As far as the layout of your new digs, you had some really cool ideas, and I liked what you did with the place. So yeah, thanks again.

How was the big shindig the other day? I heard you threw open the doors and let everyone in; how’d that go? Must’ve been a wild one, because you wouldn’t believe how many total strangers I had come to my door after swinging through your place. There goes the neighborhood right?

Just kidding. Anyway, how’ve you been? Keeping busy?

Y’know, I thought I heard something about that, the video chat/hangout thing. How’s that working out for you? I’ve heard a few people mention it, so it must be big news around your parts. Although, you just know the neighbors will be building their own soon – it’s hard to stay ahead of the Smiths, Joneses, and Zuckerbergs. Sounds like you’ve been running in circles!

Sorry, bad joke.

I gotta say, Google+, you’re still looking great. It’s a nice clean look you’ve got going, I really like it. I hadn’t seen you a while, but seeing you again for the first time I’m reminded how I liked your appearance from the moment we first met; it’s probably the thing I like best about you.

Hmmm? Oh, yeah, yeah, Facebook and I are still together, doing well. How long have we been together now? Well, just let me try to remember the timeline here…yeah, would be about four years now.

Ha ha, let me tell you – she was a little panicked when she learned you moved in down the street. For like a week she went nuts, tearing around the place trying to spruce it up; she was practically screaming “what do I need to change to convince you to stay? I’ll do anything!”. Things have calmed down now, and she realizes you’re not a threat; she back focusing on us and our relationship together.

Oh, geez, Google+, I didn’t think you’d go there, and I don’t really want to get caught up in a whole big thing. I know you want me to leave Facebook to be with you, but c’mon, you know it’s not that cut and dried. Can we change the subject? Tell me, what’s up with Wave? Haven’t seen them in what seems like forever…

Okay, look, if you really want to go down this road, we will. I don’t want you to take it personally, but to be honest? I’m just not that in to you.

There, I said it.

Hey, hey now, I didn’t say that to get you upset; I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. Things aren’t that bad – you’ve got a lot of things going for you, and I’m sure there are plenty of other people who would be happy to be a part of your life. It’s just…Facebook and I are happy together, and I’ll level with you – they give me everything I need, and more.

They’ve taken the time to learn what I like, and they’ve been awesome about organizing my stuff around the place. Plus (oh sorry, not you), they’re not afraid to keep things exciting. I don’t want to kiss and tell, but I mean there’s this new Netflix thing they’re doing that’s just amazing, and don’t get me started on Spotify!

Is she perfect? No, but at the end of the day we’re comfortable together, and we’ve invested a lot in each other, and I can’t imagine pulling out and starting over. I’m happy where I’m at, and you just don’t offer me anything better than what I’m already getting with FB.

I hope you understand, and who knows? Maybe someday you and I can have some kind of special relationship of our own! It might not be the same as the one I have with Facebook, but I still have a great time hanging out with Twitter, so it’s not like there’s room for just one social media platform in my life. But, as it stands, I’m a Facebook man, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Anyways, look, I gotta go; I’m running late for a lunch meeting with someone. Who? Oh, maybe you’ve heard of them – Foursquare? Yeah, we’ve been having a lot of fun together – they really know how to bring something unique to the table. It’s like – I can’t imagine what I did before they were in my life, y’know? Well, maybe you don’t.

Anyhow, good luck with everything, and who knows, maybe we’ll run into each other again some day.

Oh, and if you run into MySpace, tell them they still owe me a few hours of my life back!

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You Are More Than “Just”

image by Robert Crum

Years ago, when we were child-free and could do “adult things”, we went to a dinner party hosted by our good friends Hamud and Krystine. We were chatting with the various guests over coffee and the topic of careers came up; around the table there were three marketing professionals, a day trader, and a pastry chef. When it came time for my wife to share, she sheepishly admitted that she was “just a supervisor at London Drugs”. Later, on the car ride home, she confided that it was extremely embarrassing for her to reveal her profession in the company of people she considered more successful or prestigious; she felt stupid “just” being a supervisor.

She’s not alone, not by a long shot.  Many people are hesitant to reveal their careers, if not downright ashamed, and today’s blog is dedicated to them, those who feel like their job somehow doesn’t meet society’s expectations of “success”. I have a message for all of you:

Whatever your job, it matters to someone, somewhere, exponentially more than you know.

When Ideas Have Sex

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The video above is a TED talk by Matt Ridley, and if you’re a regular reader of my blog you know that it’s one of my favourites. In it, Matt describes how the multiplying effect of human effort builds efficiencies that allow us to live in this technologically advanced age. He makes a great example of the humble computer mouse of which he says, quite correctly, that no one knows how to make one.

Sure, someone might design it or conceptualize it, but can they connect the circuit boards to make it work? Can they build the resistor that goes onto the circuit board? Can they mine the ore that is smelted into copper which is used to build the resistor that goes onto the circuit board? Of course they can’t – a simple computer mouse is then sum total of thousands of people working independently, yet together, to create something amazing.

The lesson here is that there are no bit players in the creation of the world around us. The iPhone may be a technological marvel, but it’s not just Steve Job’s creation any more than an NFL quarterback is responsible for winning the Super Bowl – it’s a team effort. Some players may be more high profile than others, but without everyone’s efforts there could be no success.

You Could Be What Makes My Day

I was thinking about all of this against the backdrop of my infant daughter’s surgery. She was diagnosed with a tethered spinal cord, and surgery was necessary to ensure that her motor functions would not be impaired as she grew older. Thanks to the fabulous team of doctors at BC Children’s Hospital Lilah’s surgery went well, and her prognosis is very good.

But, as much as we owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Cochran and his wonderful team for their work, our whole experience wouldn’t have been as smooth without the efforts of hundreds of other people, all of whom helped in some way to take the pressure off of us. From the nurses, to the admin staff, to the volunteers, each of them had a role in Lilah’s stay, and we owe all of them thanks, not just the doctors.

It doesn’t end there; without even knowing it, other people helped us get through the day. The folks at Apple who built the iPhone allowed us to stay in contact with family and friends. Whoever made the dressings that protected Lilah’s incisions kept her free from infection. The employees at McDonald’s cheered up Susan thanks to a “comfort food” Big Mac. I guarantee you the girl who says she’s “just” a McDonalds cook didn’t wake up in the morning thinking she would make a difference in someone’s life, but at the end of the day, she did.

Ripples in the Water

You could be having the exact same effect without realizing it. That’s why I want to encourage you to take pride in what you do, no matter what it is. You may not see the immediate results, but somewhere down the line your efforts could be making an important difference in someone’s life. A supervisor at London Drugs may seem like a bit player on the world’s stage, but maybe you’re buoying a senior who comes in every week for their prescription, or maybe your advice is helping someone make the right choices with their health. Not everyone can be a doctor, but we can all play a part in making the world a better place through what we do (gangsters and heroin dealers excluded, of course).

Normally I leave off with some kind of parting thought or summation, but today I’m going to leave that to someone who was far more brilliant and eloquent than I will ever be. It’s one of my all-time favourite quotes, and it never fails to remind me that we are all more than “just” something – we all matter:

“If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from a high school graduation speech in 1967 (complete transcript here)

 

PS Have you heard about the campaign to build a new BC Children’s Hospital? Take a moment to learn about their dream for a new facility, and how you can help.

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What Gordon Ramsay Can Teach You about (F*cking) Business

(before we begin, a warning – this blog contains NSFW language and videos. I love it, but you’ve been warned)

Although chef Gordon Ramsay is probably best known for his show “Hell’s Kitchen”, he has another show that I much prefer called “Kitchen Nightmares”. The latter show features Gordon travelling to struggling restaurants which he endeavors to turn around, both in the kitchen and at the register. I think I like it because it combines three things I love: food, marketing, and copious amounts of profanity.

What I’ve noticed after watching the series is that the problems Gordon finds in the restaurants are very often the same problems many business people run into with their endeavours, problems like:

Letting the Fundamentals Slide

A staple of Kitchen Nightmares is the inevitable clean-up that Ramsay forces onto his subjects. No episode is complete without a fervent browbeating about how a filthy kitchen is symptomatic of low standards, and a lack of concern for the customer experience. Some owners take the news better than others:

Many non-restaurateurs are in the same situation; not necessarily in the cleanliness of their premises, but in their bad habits. A messy kitchen is really just a symptom of misplaced priorities (or laziness); chefs don’t want a messy kitchen, but they often let it slide during the day-to-day struggle of running a restaurant.

The basic fundamentals of running a business can’t be forgotten either. It might feel overwhelming just delivering your product or service to a customer, but it’s vital that all your admin tasks stay up-to-date, even if they seem trivial.

For example, you might think you can let personnel reviews slide because you’ve got more important things on your plate. But what about if your employees start to get frustrated by the lack of feedback, and their morale dips? All of sudden your customer’s experience gets worse, they start to complain, and you’ve got multiple problems on your hands. Keep everything prioritized, but don’t ignore those admin tasks forever; the longer you wait, the harder it will be to scrub clean.

Trying to Please Everyone

Once the kitchen is cleaned, Gordon turns to the menu, and nine times out of ten he finds that it is much too complicated. The new menu Ramsay prepares will  be trimmed down to consist only of customer’s favourites, and dishes that the chef can prepare to a high standard. Gone are complicated offerings that the chef can’t deliver properly – they only serve a select few standout meals.

The lesson here is simple – stick to what you can do well, and don’t water down your core offering with weak alternatives. Own a great coffeeshop? Great – don’t start selling crappy ice cream to “bring in the dessert crowd”. Are you an amazing wedding photograper? Keep shooting weddings, and don’t start producing bad commercial photography.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t expand your services, I’m just saying that if you do it’s important to maintain the same high level of quality that made your core products a success.

McDonald’s started with a milkshake machine, and is now beloved for Big Macs. You know what they’re not known for? Pizza.  Learn from their mistake.

McDonald's Pizza. From 1992. I feel old...

A Lack of Pride

The things Chef Ramsay has seen in the kitchen would appall you; expired food, reused chopsticks, and animal feces have all served to raise his ire. But, nothing gets him hotter than a chef who doesn’t take pride in their food. Mistakes happen, but a restaurant owner who just doesn’t care anymore is something Gordon just can’t abide:

Man, after that, I don’t think I even need to type anything here. All I’ll say is this – take pride in what you do, and don’t be satisfied with your product/service unless it surpasses the standards you set. I would never produce and launch a website I wasn’t proud of – the thought makes me physically ill. If you’re committed to what you do, and you take pride in your work, I know you feel the same way.

Put Your Heart into It

Viewers of Hell’s Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares may get the impression that Ramsay is just a loud mouth, or an asshole, or an egotistical jerk, or all of the above. But, if you watch long enough you’ll catch him in moments of happiness, positivity, and downright pleasantness. What makes him so happy is the same thing that gets him angry – the quality of the food. When chefs deliver poor dishes they hear about it, and if he’s impressed by the food he’s humble enough to heap praise on the person responsible.

What is comes down to is passion; Gordon is fervently passionate about food, and he wears that passion on his sleeve. You should feel the same way about your business.

Not every business needs to be run like a professional kitchen, but adopting their “customer first” approach is a vital step to building a golden reputation. You don’t need to bawl out an employee over every mistake, but it’s your responsibility to instill pride and passion into them, so they intrinsically want to exceed customer expectations. Once every team member is committed to delivering your product or service with pride and passion, you’ll start to experience the sweet taste of success.

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Support Your Core

I’m going to make an embarrassing admission;  if word gets out about what I’m going to say, I’ll doubt I’ll ever live it down in the locker room. But, here goes…

I am a Star Wars geek.

Now, I’m not exactly living-out-Lando with this. I don’t have any Mandalorian tattoos, I don’t attend any conventions, and I was able to refrain from naming any of our kids “Han”. Make no mistake though –  I know more about the Star Wars universe than could possibly be considered cool.

I know, amongst other pieces of minutia:

  • The names of all the bounty hunters (without looking them up on wikipedia); IG-88, Dengar, Bossk, Zuckuss, 4-Lom, and of course Boba Fett
  • Parsecs are measures of distance, not time, and thus completing the Kessel run in under 12 parsecs isn’t really that impressive
  • Christopher Walken was originally considered for the role of Han Solo
  • The design of Boba Fett’s ship was based on a streetlight near the modeler’s office
  • Luke’s original last name was “Starkiller”
  • Han shooting first was the dumbest idea ever
Despite my hidden/rabid fandom, there is still a spectre that hangs over my love of the franchise, a presence that forbids me from enjoying everything Star Wars. Unfortunately, the three prequels cast a permanent shadow over the series; they are the proverbial elephant in the room.
Panned Prequels
I’m certainly not alone – hardcore Star Wars fans have derided the quality of the prequel films, and by extension the brand’s iconic figure, George Lucas. Only one of the three is “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, and none of the prequels are rated by audiences higher than 7/10. Not good, when you consider each of the original films is certified fresh, and over 90% of audience members liked the films.
Let’s face facts – the prequels were turds. Any yet, somehow, the brand has survived. Hell, forget survive, the franchise thrives to this day. It has spread to popular video games, books, collectibles, and Think Geek merchandise. Hell, you can’t go 10 feet at ComicCon without running into someone dressed as Slave Leia, or Boba Fett.
Or Both. Kind Of.
The Secret to Lucas’ Success
 The brand is still a major force, so surely Team Lucas is doing something right. How has Star Wars managed to keep their momentum going? It comes down to a classic marketing ratio: the 80/20 rule. That is, 80% of your revenue will come from just 20% of your customers.
That’s what Star Wars does so well – it has embraced that 20% and they’re worked for 30 years to foster their core supporters. Most of Star Wars’ marketing efforts from day 1 have been aimed at the diehards:
  • An exclusive Fan Cub
  • A magazine just for Star Wars lovers
  • Conventions in cities across the US bringing fans closer to the brand
  • Special giveaways and collectibles only available for convention attendees
  • An ongoing dialogue between Star Wars representatives and their fans
That’s why despite three giant flops the brand continues to rake in cash by the truck loads – they’re constantly looking for ways to reward and engage with their core customers.
So, if Lucasfilm can do it, how can you apply the same principles to you business?
Building Your Own Core
Step 1 is identifying your core customers, and for some businesses this will be easier than for others. CRM systems or other data capture methods may give you insight as to your best customers, your ecommerce suite might provide analytics, but even anecdotal observation can be reasonably accurate in many cases. Analyzing your Twitter mentions and Facebook comments

Once you’ve identified your core it’s time to start embracing them. Here are three quick things you can do today to start recognizing and rewarding your key customers

One-to-one Engagement 

Humans are hardwired to crave attention and affection. If your users are active on social media, take some time to mention them publicly or thank them in a Tweet, i.e. “Hey @user so great to see you in the shop today, come back soon!”, or “@user enjoy your vacation! Post pics :)”. Make your life a little easier by creating a custom twitter list of your best Tweeps and you’ll be amazed how quickly you can start engaging them on  a day to day basis.

Foursquare Rewards

Foursquare makes identifying and rewarding core customers easy for bricks and mortar retailers/shops. A “mayor” deal will give your most frequent Foursquare-using customer a special deal only for them; some popular deals I have seen have included:

  • Free combo/drink upsize
  • 10% off entire order
  • Product Giveaways
Foursquare is simple to use, and is self service, so you could be up and running in a short time. Not only will a good Mayor  special reward a valued client, but it could also fuel competition amongst regulars for the title.
Exclusives

Owning something that no one else has is a special thrill for many of us (which of course explains why this fellow is lined up now for an iPhone5). You can gain goodwill by rewarding your customers with new products before anyone else, or exclusive products available to only a select few. You can accomplish this in a number of different ways:

  • Extended early shopping hours for select customers
  • Early access to promo codes and sales
  • Beta invites to new products and builds
A New Hope
Think back to the 80/20 rule, and how it works. Right now you’re probably spending 80% of your marketing budget on high level marketing efforts designed to expand your reach (web banners, radio ads, prints ads etc.). You’re spending the majority of your budget chasing customers who probably only bring in 20% of your revenue. Now, I’m not saying you should abandon those efforts (you need to bring in new bodies of course) but they should not come at the expense of remembering your best customers. Keep those 20% happy, and you’ll not only get the benefit of their business, but also the word of mouth they pass on. Make their Force be with you.

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Saying Thank You

My first “real” job out of college was not exactly a perfect fit. The company (which will remain nameless, unless of course you visit my LinkedIn profile) was well-known for being a rough place to work, but I needed the experience, and so I was willing to put up with some tough circumstances in order to get them on my resume. I wasn’t the only one to dread going into work either – no joke, employee turnover was 90%, every year.

At a family dinner I complained to my Dad about how much I hated the job, and how management there didn’t seem to want to make the effort to create a good working environment. I’ll never forget what he told me; he looked me right in the eye and said “okay Mike, but what are you doing to make it any better?”.

It stopped me dead, because he was right. I was so busy feeling down because no manager ever recognized my hard work that I hadn’t made any effort to tell my coworkers what a great job they were doing. Sure working conditions sucked, but that didn’t mean I had to be part of the problem – I needed to learn to be a part of the solution.

Putting Out Positivity

That’s why I’m writing the blog today – to put a little positivity into the world. I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of negativity recently, and instead adding more bad Karma to the world,  I want to do something positive.

So, this blog is all about saying Thank You. It’s something we don’t always take the time to do, but I think now is the perfect time for me to show a little gratitude to those who make a positive difference in my life.

And so, I’d like to thank:

  • My Tweeps, for making it fun to boot up Hootsuite every morning
  • Starbucks, for letting me have an “office” to work from, with free Wifi and great food/drinks
  • The staff at my Starbucks, who don’t give me dirty looks, despite the fact I sit there all day
  • The guys at Tuesday night hockey, who make staying in shape fun, and let me keep playing the game I love
  • Apple, for bringing user-experience to the forefront of industrial design
  • My Mom, and Mom-in-Law, who have been so supportive with their time
  • My friend Hamud, who always brings such great conversation to the table
  • The staff at BC Children’s Hospital, and our pediatrician Dr. Poole, who have helped us stay calm and informed about Lilah’s condition
  • Friends like Jessica Owen and Sarah Head (amongst many, many others) who have been so supportive of Wink in its infancy
  • My teachers throughout the years, many of whom helped me find my way right to where I am today
  • My gaming buddies, for letting me stay young, a few nights a month
  • My clients, who make it seem more like fun than work
  • Family like Chris and Jen, on whom I can always trust to be there when I need them
  • My kids, for keeping my soul healthy
  • Susan, my lovely wife, who can always make me smile even when things look stormy
  • And of course, my Dad, for passing on such wonderful advice (as he always has)

In a 600 word blog I can only thank so many people (and believe me, I wish I could take the time to thank every person who brings a little positivity into my life). But even if I didn’t mention you personally, know that if you’re helping to make the world a happier place to live, then I thank you too. Because at the end of the day you can throw out Twitter and Facebook numbers, Klout or any other kind of metric – the only influence that matters is the Karma you leave behind.

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The Time to Dream Big is Now

Anyone who knows me is well aware of the esteem I hold for Malcolm Gladwell. He and I share the same fundamental curiosity about this world, and his efforts to answer his own burning questions simultaneously answer my own.

One of my favourite Gladwell books is Outliers, in which he attempts to determine how successful people get ahead; is it luck, genetics, hardwork, or otherwise? To do so, one of the cohorts of data he presents is a list of the top 75 richest people who ever lived, from pharaohs on forward. As he points out, what instantly jumps out is that almost 20% of the names on the list come from a single generation. As Gladwell himself puts it:

If you were born in the late 1840’s, you missed it. You were too young to take advantage of that moment. If you were born in the 1820’s, you were too old: your mindset was shaped by the pre-Civil War paradigm. But there is a particular, narrow nine-year window that was just perfect for seeing the potential that the future held. All of the 14 men and women on that list had vision and talent. But they also were given an extraordinary opportunity. . .

Essentially, the time was exactly right for people to make something of themselves; the industrial revolution and its antecedent properties created an environment where  even the little guy (men like Frederick Weyerhaeuser, Marshall Field, and Philip Danforth Armour) could create the American Dream for themselves.

The Journey of 1000 Miles Starts with a Single Click

We may not be able to capitalize on the industrial revolution, but I believe we are extremely lucky to be living through another incredibly powerful movement – the digital revolution. Just like the industrial age allowed entrepreneurs certain advantages, the digital age gives us tremendous power over our own destinies; whatever we can dream, we can create.

It’s okay to be skeptical; it can seem like launching your own business is impossible. And that’s exactly why I wrote this blog, to hopefully give those of you sitting on fantastic ideas the tools to make them a reality. Even if you can’t afford to work on your new business full-time, these tools will at least let you get started part-time.  The sites below put the power in your hands to start a business not tomorrow or next week, but today.

Tool #1: A Word Press Blog

Chances are if you’ve been sitting on a business idea, the cost of a website has been a significant roadblock for you. Purchasing a fully-functional website can be an expensive and uncertain process, especially if you’re never been involved in building one before.

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have your own space on the web to spread your brand’s message. WordPress is a fabulous (and free) blogging platform that allows you compose and post your own content on pre-made attractive, easy-to-use themes.

Even if you’re not ready to launch right away, an on-going pre-launch blog can be invaluable in building buzz and spreading your message, getting your audience warm before you actually go live with your new product or service.

Tool # 2:  Online Retail Portals

Let’s say you’re a little further along, and are ready to sell product online. Opening your own bricks and mortar store takes boatloads of cash, and it can take a long time to get your product on to prominent retailers shelves, especially if you’re not an established business. Selling via your own ecommerce store is an option, and it gets more affordable all the time, but there are still promotional costs that can drive up the cost of running your own store.

Thankfully there are a number of online retailers who allow you to own your own corner of an ecommerce store. Sites like Zazzle.com, which allows graphic designers to sell their own designs on tshirts, mugs etc., or Etsy.com which lets crafty folk sell handmade or vintage items, art and supplies. Shopify is a similar idea, with a more general slant.

Of course, each site wants a piece of every sale you make, but it’s still an affordable way to dip your toe into ecommerce, without diving in headfirst.

Tool #3: Social Media

So let’s say that you’ve gone ahead and launched your business – now it’s time to promote your new venture. Unfortunately, traditional methods are not exactly ideal:

  • Local newspaper ads – ineffective
  • Radio ads – any station with traffic is expensive, any station that’s cheap doesn’t have any listeners
  • Major newspaper ads – any kind of frequency is expensive
  • TV ads – out of your budget
  • Yellowpages ads – how are you even using a computer grandpa?

But, all is not lost –  social media is here to give you a voice to broadcast your message, and connect with customers.

Many brands have found their path to success through social media; where would Blendtec be without their landmark web series “Will it Blend?”? Likewise, online stores like ModCloth have embraced social media and blogging to such an extent that they literally place their success at the feet of their online efforts.

Use tools like Facebook and Twitter to spread your message; not only are they cheaper than traditional media, they can also form stronger bonds with customers.

Tool #4: Crowd-sourced Funding

Your idea might be a little bigger than what your finances can cover. Finding interested investors can be difficult, especially for small business people just starting out. Sources of capital are out there though, even for low-income earners, provided you meet certain criteria.

For example, Kickstarter funds creative and artistic projects via crowd-sourcing. Users perusing Kickstarter can choose to fund artistic projects that catch their eye, but the investment amounts are typically low (generally people are chipping in $5-$20). But, the power of crowd-sourced funding isn’t the individual donations, but in the sheer volume of donations; those $5 donations add up once thousands of people get on board.

For example, Kickstart famously featured an artist’s desire to create a Robocop statue in Detroit. 2718 users donated an average of $25 to make the project a reality.

Depending on your situation, you may qualify for other sources of funding, like micro-lending site www.kiva.org, or other similar microloans programs available through some credit unions.

Don’t let a lack of funding torpedo your business – your idea might be such a good one that others are willing to make a small investment to see it come to fruition.

Screw the Old Boys Club

The biggest difference between the business climate of the industrial revolution and today (besides the technological advancements) is the open environment we live in today. If you look at Malcolm’s list of the richest people in history, you’ll notice that there is exactly one minority on there – the “Witch of Wall Street” Hetty Green.

Thankfully our culture is much more open to people of any background finding their fortune. Don’t let big banks, or fancy suits try to dissuade you from starting your business – there’s plenty of ways you can start your own business without relying on traditional methods. Blaze your own trail, and create a story that people tell long after you’re gone.

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All the Things You Can’t Change

This world can be an incredibly tough place to live. A planet with this many people on it is bound to make you feel helpless sometimes, especially when things are at their worst. But, when things seem to be at their darkest, you can’t let it eat you up.

  • You can’t change that your favourite team lost the big game
  • You can’t change that your family might be in danger in a war zone
  • You can’t change that your son or daughter might be shipped out to fight in a warzone
  • You can’t change that your employer has locked you out
  • You can’t change that your city was embarrassed by punk rioters
  • You can’t change that your home was broken into
  • You can’t change that someone just insulted your race
  • You can’t change that your loved one is working late to protect the streets
  • You can’t change that your two month old daughter needs to see a neurosurgeon

The 6″ in Front of Your Face

It goes on and on. We’re surrounded daily by circumstances that are beyond our control, and it can be soul crushing to bear their weight.

But, even in the face of this helplessness, we can still bring positive change into this world, and it all starts with us making the choice to do good. There are many things we can’t control, but we still control what we do when we wake up in the morning.

  • Maybe we can’t change that rioters destroyed our city’s reputation, but we can do what hundreds of volunteer citizens did this morning – taking to the street to clean up the damage. A heartfelt thanks to the people behind the Facebook event Post-riot Clean Up.
  • Likewise, we might not have been able to stop the rioters, but we can help bring them to justice. Numerous social media sites are posting images of rioters, encouraging members of the public to identify offenders including this much-discussed Facebook pagehttp://www.identifyrioters.com/ is a good site as well.
  • We couldn’t stand with the police to help protect the city, but we can say “thanks” next time we see a VPD or RCMP officer.
  • We might not be able to stop violence in other countries, but we can share the people’s messages on social media.

Every one of us can make a decision today to either work towards a better world, or to let the things we can’t control colour our world for the worse. No, you can’t change everything,  but you can decide to try and make everything better, one small step at a time.

Make the decision to do good. Put positivity into the world. Forget what you can’t change, and focus on what you can.

 

 

 

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